Outspoken Curacao politician shot dead

6th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

The popular leader of Curacao's largest political party has been shot dead on a beach near the Dutch Caribbean island's capital in an assassination apparently linked to his fight against corruption, the Dutch national broadcaster said Monday.

Gunmen fired at least six shots at Helmin Wiels, 54, as he was having a drink on Sunday afternoon with friends at a beach about three kilometres (1.6 miles) southeast of Willemstad.

"They fired six shots at him and he died instantly," Curacao's Prime Minister Daniel Hodge told the NOS national broadcaster.

Wiels was the leader of Curacao's largest political party, Pueblo Soberano and was an outspoken supporter of full independence for Curacao, an autonomous island which still partly falls under control of the Netherlands.

The NOS and other Dutch papers on Monday linked Wiel's murder to his tough stance on corruption on the island, adding that an intensive police investigation was under way to trace the suspects.

Wiels was often called the "Pim Fortuyn" of Curacao in reference to the controversial right-wing Dutch politician who was assassinated, also aged 54, in a parking lot in the Netherlands in 2002.

Arguing that the Netherlands shouldn't interfere with the island's affairs, Wiels was once quoted as saying that the Dutch "should come to Curacao where the body bags were waiting." He later denied the reference to body bags.

The murder has been met with shock both in Curacao and in the Netherlands, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte calling it a "cowardly act."

Curacao is a former member of the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of Venezuela and was given full autonomy on internal affairs in 2010, however, the Dutch government remains responsible for the island's defence and foreign affairs.


© 2013 AFP

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